Wednesday 26 September 2012

Carbon 13: Ballroom Marfa and Cape Farewell team up

In Marfa, Texas

Kellie Gutman writes:

Marfa is a small town of 2,121 people in western Texas.  In 2003, Virginia Lebermann and Fairfax Dorn converted a former 1927 ballroom into a performance and exhibition space called Ballroom Marfa.  In this intellectual environment, issues and perspectives are explored through film, music, art and performance.

Ballroom Marfa contacted Cape Farewell's David Buckland to curate Carbon 13: From the High Arctic to the High Desert, which runs from 31 August until 20 January 2013.  Eight artists who have traveled with Cape Farewell to the Andes, the Arctic and Scotland's island communities are presenting newly-commissioned works to highlight the effects of climate change.  The exhibit is supported in part by an Artistic Innovation and Collaboration (AIC) Grant from the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.

The artists represented are Ackroyd & Harvey, Amy Balkin, Erika Blumenfeld, David Buckland, Adriane Colburn, Antony Gormley, Cynthia Hopkins and Sunand Prasad.

In the online art newspaper,, the reviewer of Carbon 13 wrote:

Ballroom Marfa continues its ambitious mission of presenting art as a transforming media capable of addressing the most pressing issues of our time.
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Friday 21 September 2012

New on our news page

This week-end in Berlin, the Wasteland Twinning Network will be conducting twinning ceremonies between Yogyakarta, Nottingham, Sydney, Kuala Lumpur, Amsterdam and other urban wastelands.

Adrift in London, the Cape Farewell poet-in-residence Tom Chivers maps the peatbog underneath Elephant and Castle and Battersea’s tidal loop.

At the edge of London’s Canary Wharf, in the concrete amphitheatre of the Preston Road roundabout, performer Dennis McNulty interferes with urban circuits of transportation, infrastructure, architecture and minerals.

The third Dark Mountain collection of essays, fiction, interviews and poetry is out.

At Cardiff's Chapter Arts Centre, the future's not what it used to be.
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Friday 14 September 2012

The golden glow of arts funding

Wallace Heim writes: is the organisation in Copenhagen that came up with the idea of housing artists and activists in people's homes for the climate talks. Their website lists open calls for artist's awards, residencies and other opportunities.

This week's Special Call is for Passion to Perform - Art Competition 2012, for paintings, photography, sculptures and drawings, with prizes of Canadian $6,000, $2,500 and $1,000.

It's not exactly an 'open' call.

The sponsor is Yamana Gold, one of the world's leading gold and copper mining companies, with operations throughout the Americas, primarily Argentina and Brazil. They are asking for artworks that are inspired by the company's core principles: "sustainability, dependability, respect for the environment and our communities, safety of our colleagues."

"Passion to Perform is a competition which celebrates the success of Yamana Gold, and we are looking forward to engaging creatively in a way that reflects our company's diversity and core values."

Other views about Yamana Gold's principles are here and here.

Photo above of the Gualcamayo open pit, heap leach gold operation in the San Juan province of Argentina, courtesy of the Yamana Gold website. 
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Wednesday 12 September 2012

New on our news page

Reading material (not for summer):

Silence for years, then two journals discover ecology, publishing themed issues:  Performance Research and Research in Drama Education.

'Ecodramaturgy' gets started with a collection of readings in performance and ecology edited by Theresa May and Wendy Arons.

Beautiful Trouble sets out how to make it.

The long walk from the Caspian Sea to the City of London exposes the Oil Road. James Marriott and Mika Minio-Paluello mix travel writing and investigative activism. 
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Tuesday 11 September 2012

The first river to have legal rights

The Whanganui River, Aotearoa / New Zealand
Wallace Heim writes:

For the first time, a river has been given a legal voice. The Whanganui River in New Zealand has become a legal entity, and will be recognised as a person in law in the same way that a company is, giving it rights and interests.

The status of the river as Te Awa Tupua (an integrated, living whole) is a step in the resolution of historical grievances and court cases between the Whanganui iwi, the Maori peoples and nations living along the river, and the Crown. Two guardians, one from the Whanganui River iwi, and one from the Crown will be given the role of protecting the river.

In the UK, ‘rights’ generally means the right to access for humans to rivers, or the right to flood protection.

But many artists are negotiating the relations between human use and the free-running of rivers, navigating the values and affections towards rivers. Just now, among these are Multi-Story Water on the River Aire in Shipley and the River Frome in Bristol, and River Runs on the Thames near Oxford. Jem Southam is exhibiting photographs of the River Exe, investigating what makes or defines a river. Earlier this year, Flow turned the Tyne into music in Newcastle. And two decades ago, Still Waters uncovered the buried rivers of London.

photo: Phil Robinson

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Friday 7 September 2012

The big idea? Get lost

Joan Littlewood
Wallace Heim writes:

Seminars about sustainability and the arts often, usefully but repeatedly, focus on energy use and material consumption. A public conversation at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, ‘What’s the Big Idea?’, organised by Creative Carbon Scotland and Festivals Edinburgh, nodded to the material imperatives -  the plastic cups - then shifted the discussion to the processes of making theatre that don’t fit with the accountancy of sustainability, to the unintended consequences of sustainable decisions, and to the need for sharing more technologies more widely.

The conversation opened with provocations from Erica Whyman, Artistic Director of Northern Stage, and Anthony Alderson, Director of the Pleasance Theatre Trust, chaired by Harry Giles, Environment Officer of Festival Edinburgh, and hosted by Ben Twist of Creative Carbon Scotland.

A phrase from Whyman recurred throughout the discussion. She quoted theatre director Joan Littlewood speaking about how to make theatre, and how to challenge the hierarchies in power: ‘We must get lost if we are to make a new route.’

Whyman compared ‘getting lost’ to the need in theatre production for not adhering to absolute objectives, whether financial, material or ideological. The question, for Whyman, is not why more artists don’t make work about climate change. Artists make the work they want to make; they are not essayists or teachers. Rather, artists get lost, and create something that surprises.

The surprises, or unintended consequences of working within financial constraints have meant theatres having to work with different economic models. Whyman’s example was Northern Stage’s decision to group together artists, makers and staff in accommodation in Edinburgh for their series of productions at St. Stephen’s church. Inadvertently, they created a commune, a creative and powerful way of working together as a team. These aspects of consensus and democracy are forgotten, according to Whyman, in the accountancy of sustainability and in the apocalyptic narratives of climate change.

Alderton spoke of the need to look for the wider questions behind the requests for the artistic community to recycle or use less energy.  Every company working with the Pleasance plants a tree in Scotland. This is a trade. Theatres are places of trade, artistically and materially, and need to share their technologies, be less possessive about their productions and share ideas. 

‘Getting lost’ figured in many of the audience’s questions. If theatre productions set the conditions for the audience to get lost in finding a new route, and organisations set the conditions for productions, how do directors and curators more immediately set the conditions for artists to ‘get lost’ in creating new work about sustainability or the climate? Why might artists not be willing to engage with, get lost, in the scientific and the political aspects of climate change? How can artists be encouraged to hold contradictory ideas in tension in creative ways, like the tension between where we are now, and where we could be heading?

Too, there were questions about the relation between theatre and the public; about whether theatre should teach; about audiences’ carbon footprints and whether the arts world had responsibility for audiences' travel.

The slight change of perspective connected the achievement of carbon reduction figures to the relations and effects between material use and communal, artistic and intellectual change - a viable new route. 
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Thursday 6 September 2012

Weather presenter freaks out

A colleague has emailed us this clip. A weather presenter strays into climate reporting, comedy and reality. 
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Wednesday 5 September 2012

Jonathan Jones faces the empty museum

Guardian art critic Jonathan Jones on the sixth extinction

"Human activity endangers entire species, yet human culture is profoundly rooted in nature. The loss of a species is also a loss of the images, stories, symbols and wonders that we live by – to call it a cultural loss may sound too cerebral: what we lose when we lose animals is the very meaning of life...The range of animals and plants threatened by the sixth extinction is such that it menaces the foundations of culture as well as the diversity of nature. We are part of nature and it has always fed our imaginations. We face the bare walls of an empty museum, a gallery of the dead."
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Tuesday 4 September 2012

New on our news page

On the move:

Nowhereisland comes to Bristol this week-end, the final stop on its tour around the south west.

In the north west, Ghost Bird walks the Trough of Bowland remembering the Hen Harrier and the Pendle Witches, and Sand Pilot crosses Morecambe Bay.

Walking across Belgium, the Sideways Festival comes into Turnhout and stops for a symposium.

Other conferences coming up are composting culture (Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment - UK) and building resilience (Transition Network).
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